Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Problems with Stack Overflow and intellectual property

We often find that in the course of our work we come across answers to problems and will generally blog about them or post them as answers on sites like Microsoft.com or Stack Overflow.

We generally attribute the code that we paste to our product and put a backlink to our site, some forums like Microsoft don't seem to mind as long as your posting relevant content and valid answers and I thought StackOverflow didn't mind either so happily worked for free for them pasting our source code into answers given a product mention.

Other forums won't allow this and your post won't appear which is fair enough.

That was until I started getting quite arrogant emails from StackOverflow.

I'm not sure what the multiple accounts are unless I've logged in with Google+ or Facebook (?) and it their site hasn't linked the accounts together correctly.

I wasn't particularly happy with this attitude which harks back to the old sysops of the 80s that treated users (lusers) in an aloof fashion.

I checked my posts to make sure I hadn't mislead people about our product and found I'd put generally pretty decent source code and found that without informing me StackOverflow had removed my backlinks and edited my content.

I pointed this out to them that they don't have the right to edit my content when it's signed with my name, to which I had another arrogant email reply.

I decided to take my source code and content back and tried to delete it and was blocked. I replaced my content with a message saying why I was removing it and they blocked my account and informed me that they now owned my content and I was not allowed to remove it.

Jesus. This is not good.

Imagine you post something that has IP belonging to your company you've lost control of it, and probably your job along with it.

"If you don't like our content policies, you are more than welcome to cease your participation here and stop contributing. ... But you cannot have all of your past content that's already been contributed removed from the site."

StackOverflow has a huge team dedicated to taking your efforts and profiting from it. I have to say it's a clever model.

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